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2011 WSOP Winner Pius Heinz


A few months ago, Pius Heinz was just your regular poker player. In fact, he was even unsure if it was really the right career path for him as he had lost thousands of dollars this year just before he joined the tournament in May. He had planned on going back to college to continue his studies in business psychology if things didn’t work out for him poker-wise.

Pius’ original interest in poker stemmed from watching High Stakes Poker and World Series of Poker on television. He and his friends decided at the time to give it a try and after a couple of weekends playing for petty cash, he realized that it is not about luck but about skill – a skill that can be developed.

He then started playing poker online and it was there that he discovered the sheer number of poker information readily available. He read all that he could and developed his skill and style. It was at online poker rooms where he gained the expertise and the experience needed for him to succeed professionally in poker. As his online tournament winnings exceeded $ 700,000, he made the decision of trying out for the World Series of Poker. He first ranked 7th place in one event and cashed in more than $83,000 in WSOP’s No Limit Hold ’em, the first live tournament he ever participated in.

For the Main Event, he came in on the first day of the competition. The reason for playing so early in the event was that he wanted to go home as soon as he could if he didn’t make it. At the beginning of the game, Pius Heinz proved that he has got what it takes when his gut instincts proved him right.

For 8 days straight, he slowly amassed his chips staring with only 89,550 to 16,425,000 at the end of Day 8. The final table lasted for two days and the fight between the last two men standing lasted around 6 hours. On November 9, he was finally awarded the coveted World Series of Poker bracelet together with the pot money of $ 8,715,638.

He is officially the first player from Germany to ever win in the WSOP Main Event. At 22 years old, he still has a lot to go but for now, he has already been cemented and immortalized in poker history as the reigning poker champion in the world—at least for this year.

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Beating the cheaters

When you are playing high stakes poker, tensions could be running high, and the beads of sweat dot your forehead. It takes patience, a little bit of luck off the flop, and some betting savvy to force your opponents out, or win the pot. But, what do you do when the table is surreptitiously tilted in your opponent’s favor? Is there some sort of scam going on?

Poker cheating is not uncommon. The easiest way to put it is, if you have been playing poker for some time, you have probably run into a cheater. It has been happening ever since the game came to the United States. In poker, the line between deceit (mucking your 2, 3 off suit and telling everyone you had a pair of nines) and cheating is a fine one. Many players have flirted with that line on various occasions. So, how do you identify a person who is cheating at a table, and what do you do about it?

Oddly enough, most people would believe that the common cheater would be the beginner – the players who want to show their skill to the rest of the table. Or, the player who uses sleight of hand to magically have the right cards appear. In reality, much of the cheating is done by more experienced players who understand the advantage of appearing natural and unsuspecting of any cheating going on.

The key to identifying the cheater at the table is to be alert. If you have been playing poker for a while you should be able to identify the signs of cheating, such as illogical betting, increased speed of the game, rapid change of playing style or raises in unusual situations. Whether it is card-flashing, marked cards, culling or stacking a deck, or two players working off each other when betting, a confident and attentive poker player should be able to see what is going on.

So what can you do about it? Use the cheating against the cheaters. If you start to bet illogically because they should know the hand you have, then do the opposite of what you would normally do. That is the greatest position of power for a person who is suspicious of cheating. When you start winning hands, or not falling for traps when you have a pair of kings and the cheater across from you was dealt two aces, you have the upper hand.

You also could try to expose the cheating. This is a touchy situation because often times it is difficult to prove another player has been cheating unless you have insurmountable evidence to that effect. It might work if you are dealing with two players who are crossfire betting, but if the house or the dealer are involved, then you could be asking for trouble.

Leave the game. This is the best option. If you are losing your chips quickly, it is probably a good idea to leave the table anyway. One thing you can do is play the game for a while with the cheaters until you have no doubt in your mind something is going on, and just before you get up, subtly make them aware you knew what they were up to.

Unfortunately, there will never be a way to totally eliminate cheating as long as humans are involved. People are always looking for a way to gain an advantage over others, and many will stop at nothing. They have no respect for that line of deception versus cheating. So, arm yourself with knowledge about the game, and about how people are cheating and you won’t get bit the next time a snake plays at your table.

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A few poker terms

Draw strength is a measure of how likely it is that your hand will become the winning hand. There are two basic approaches to computing this value. The usual method is to count your outs, and if you are sufficiently sophisticated possibly discount some of them. This generates a value somewhere in the range of [0,52], which can be normalized into a [0,1] value.

For pre flop hand strength, during the pre flop round the usual meaning of hand strength, and draw strength aren’t that useful. Without a board, the possibility of a draw is just that only a possibility. And the strength of your hand is greatly affected by the range of hands that your opponent will play. Issues of domination, implied odds, and position greatly affect how strong a hand is pre flop. Because of this, creating measures of pre flop hand strength has been a topic of great debate. Sklansky and Malmuth have developed the concept of hand groups, and Abdul Jalib created his preflop rankings through simulation.

For all-in equity, if all betting has finished, and no one can fold, this measure represents the fraction of the pot that you will win on average. This value is independent of the size of the pot, and doesn’t take into consideration any future action, bets, or folds. It does consider all draws and redraws. And if you can put your opponent on a range of hands, then you can determine whether calling an all-in raise is correct or not. In some ways, equity can be viewed as a combination of both linear hand strength and draw strength, and it’s usefulness is directly linked to situations where every hand that is the best will be shown down, and every possible draw will be drawn to.

Expected value is a well-known poker term. This is the Holy Grail of hand measures. Given a game context, the expected value (EV) of specific action represents the average profit or loss over all possible scenarios. Everything you know about a context can be used as input for this measure. Because of this, it is almost impossible to compute with absolute accuracy. But the more information that you can integrate into an estimate of EV, the more precise that measure will be. In some limited situations, very good estimates of EV can be constructed. But with a nearly boundless amount of information (including general experience, specific opponent information, and external meta-game issues) it’s impossible to create a practical definition of EV for all cases. So, just as the Holy Grail will never be found, no computation can ever give you the true EV of a situation.

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poker is dirty

Poker is a Dirty Business

Poker is a very glamorized game on the outside, thanks to ESPN, the Travel Channel and other networks broadcasting players as young as 21 years old winning hundreds of thousands of dollars in televised tournaments.

Many are college drop-outs who are riding the wave of the Poker boom, and taking advantage of all the loose money floating around the poker world both online and in live games everywhere.

In almost every city in the civilized world you can find a Poker game 24 hours a day whether it be in a local casino, or a home game. Most, if not all of the players in these games have their hopes and dreams set on becoming the next Average Joe to hit it big in the game we all know so well and obsess over.

What many of these hopefuls don’t realize, is that when the cameras are not rolling, poker is a dirty business.

They don’t see one of the best tournament players of all time borrowing money from everyone he meets on the strength of his name. Or his wife having to FedEx his tournament Buy-in directly to the hotel so he doesn’t lose it in the Craps game on the way to the poker room.

They don’t see a very well known internet player racking up over $100,000 in debt to, and allegedly hacking into the account of another well-known player. After repeated attempts to collect, to my knowledge the debt still isn’t paid off.

They don’t hear all of the allegations of chip-dumping in big buy-in tournaments by a syndicate connected to a well known poker player and mentor.

They don’t hear about how one of the greatest, most well known and respected players of all time allegedly making big money early in his career by playing partners with other locals, to squeeze unknowing tourists of their bankrolls.

They don’t know why a certain WPT final table participant just couldn’t make it to the WSOP tournaments for day two, even though he was in a great chip position. They also have not read the cryptic interviews with the player in regard to his absences, as reported by a known poker journalist.

They don’t know that an astounding number of players in these big-money tournaments are backed, or in debt so much that they see little or no money from what they win. In an interview with one WSOP winner, the player was asked what he would do with all that money. “pay some people back that I owe probably” he replied. “What about the rest?” the reporter asked.

“Oh they will just have to wait.” the player responded.

People seldom understand how shady and desperate people become when large sums of money are involved. Money changes people. It makes them do crazy things, but then again–it also makes the world go ’round.

Good Luck at the Tables

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Phil Ivey: head of the class

Phil Ivey has two homes. The one that poker built, and the poker tables at the Bellagio.

Phil Ivey needs no introduction. At 32, this seasoned poker pro has revolutionized the game with his fresh, suave demeanor, savvy play, and intense concentration, making him one of the youngest poker champions in the world. Just as impressive, he has managed to do so while gaining the respect of pros 20-30 years his senior. His peers consider him one of the best players in the world. His is the lifestyle we associate with a world class professional poker player.

Phil is always ready for action and even does interviews while playing at high stakes games at the Bellagio. These, after all, are the sound bites of Phil Ivey’s game. During long games, players and Phil love to bet each other on card formations. It adds excitement.

Phil Ivey started playing poker for money when he was eight years old when his grandfather taught him the game and they played for pennies. He knew then he had an aptitude and passion for the game. He was 15-16 years old when he started to play for real money and realized the potential to make a living doing it.

How have the players from the Internet coming into live games affected poker? The Internet has enabled people to learn faster than those of us who picked up knowledge of the game at live games in the casinos or at home games. The Internet has truly revolutionized the game of poker, where a person can play a hundred thousand hands a month from the comfort of their home. Practice does make a difference in the game of poker.

How much poker does Phil Ivey play? Is it a job or a passion or both? Poker is really his life, and he is passionate about it. He work when he is called. It’s not a 9-5 job. He plays for a day straight, takes some time off, and can be right back at the table with just a few hours sleep.

Of course his your favorite online poker site is FullTiltPoker.com hands down. No site has as many pros dropping by your table. He enjoys the high stakes games and user-friendliness the site offers to the newcomers to the game. Plus tons of tournaments and bonus incentives for the players.

His favorite poker room in Las Vegas is the Bellagio which has a great poker room. In Atlantic City it’s the Taj Mahal Poker Room.

Is he ready to play at the drop of a hat or does he schedule his poker sessions? He receives calls daily and schedules time in. It’s a business like any other job¡ He goes to work each day and sometimes day turns to night and then day. It’s poker and there are no time constraints.

Phil was married and very happy but he recently files for divorce. His wife used to be his biggest supporter. If she wants to come see me, she knows all she needs to do is come to the game. They met when he was 18 and have been together 10 years. They both enjoy the lifestyle surrounding poker. They truly feel blessed by the success he has had, which enables his wife and he to travel and do things they always dreamed of.

Has he written or plan to write any books on poker? Yes he is very interested in writing a book on poker down the road. He lives it and he is passionate about it, but if he is going to do it he wants it to be special and helpful to the players out there. Keep an eye out for it.

If you’re considering turning pro and making poker your full-time profession, remember this: It’s a lot harder than it looks. I urge you to play part-time for a year or two, and if you keep winning, go for it. Look, I can teach you the game and you could beat me, but if we played constantly for a year I would win most of the time. To determine if you’re good, you need to win constantly. But do not mistake luck for being an expert. Poker is a tough game, and constantly winning is even tougher.

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Aviation club of France

This is a quick summary of my visit to France and to the most famous poker club in Paris, the Aviation Club of Paris.

It was about 6PM and I went to the 104 Avenue des Champs Elysées, the address that all French poker players and many international poker players know, as this is the ACF, in other words the Aviation Club of French. Even though the name is reminiscent of planes, this is indeed the Mecca of French poker, the meeting place for all poker enthusiasts from all over France.

The bad memories of my last session are far away and I know very well that poker is made of ups and downs. My first surprise in this place is the floor manager who smiles when I showed him my ID card, seemingly saying: “no need for that, we are among gentlemen here!”.

Now I am in the poker room and as expected the tables are full and the waiting list as well. I have some time, so I walk around the side of the 100NL table where I watch a real battle between a gang of maniacs! Each flop costs at least 30€ (7.5 BB) and everyone plays a loose aggressive style. A maniac forces AK to fold on a flop A39 with a reraise for 100€ with T9o. Welcome to the ACF.

Here come the hour of the tournament, this night it is a 30€ with rebuy the first hour and one add on after one hour, starting with 50 big blinds. I begin the first round at a table with 2 beginners and some good players. I see some beautiful hands and my stack goes up to about 70BB at the end of the first step. Then the beautiful hands are becoming rarer.

Later my table breaks quite quickly. I do a quick look and I recognize three good players on the aggressive side. I decide to wait and observe my new table first. Then came my rush as patience paid. I see some good cards and my stack began to fatten a bit.

The other players respected me, I was confident in myself and I managed to eliminate as many as 5 players, 2 on a shove with KQ of clubs on a flop JT3 with two clubs where I touched my flush on the river!

I was now in the top 5 for the tournament, the steps went by and we reached the semi final 2 tables of 9 players. But only the final 9 get paid. To balance my game I decided to tighten my game until the end. At one point I threw my pair of queen against the raise of a tight rock and he showed me KK, good fold.

The guy looked at me questioningly and I spelt it with a big smile. We were finally to 9 for the final table I was the 5th in chips. The game narrowed a bit and I continued to touch good cards, also stealing some blinds. In particular those of a pleasant lady who was folding without hesitation to any raise. My fatal error was to bet aggressively 33 from the small blind with a flop J48. I bet it, get called. The turn a blank. The river was an A and I open-bet it without hesitation. He thought for at least 3 minutes, called and showed QQ, devastating my stack.

I then found myself very short stacked and of course my opponents made use of cooperation and here I am out in 4th place. A little disappointed because I thought I could the final two in that tournament, but happy with my performance for my first Limit Hold’em tournament and a prize of 525 € to cheer me.

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